Sentence upheld by judge in infant death
SUNBURY - Northumberland County Judge Charles H. Saylor has upheld his 12- to 60-month sentence for a Sunbury mother charged in connection with the death of her 1-year-old daughter.
In a seven-page order issued Thursday, Saylor outlined his decision about Heidi S. Yocum, 30, of Lewisburg, who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor endangering the welfare of children for her role in the 2010 death, The Daily Item reported on Friday.
"The consequences of (Yocum's) failure to follow any normal maternal instinct on the day and evening in question resulted in a tragic outcome for a helpless 1-year-old child," Saylor wrote.
Yocum, as well as Lopoka Loner, the baby's father, and Bertha M. Dreese, of Selinsgrove, the baby's maternal grandmother, were charged by Sunbury Officer Jamie Quinn about a year after the death of Anela Naloni Loner, who was found dead Oct. 16, 2010, from hyperthermia after being left in a room for 19 hours with a space heater at 43 S. Seventh St., Sunbury, where Yocum and Loner resided at the time.
Police said Dreese had been babysitting the child and Yocum's two other children. Police said Dreese arrived at the home at 1 p.m., but didn't check on the infant until the following morning.
Additionally, neither Yocum nor Loner checked on the child throughout the day, police said.
Authorities said the infant was not provided any food or water in the room, which likely ranged in temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees.
Yocum was sentenced Jan. 14 after previously pleading guilty to recklessly endangering a child for her role in the death. She was expecting to be placed on probation.
Yocum's plea was accepted by Saylor, but not the sentencing conditions the defendant and her attorney, Edward "E.J." Rymsza of Williamsport had sought.
A plea agreement between Northumberland County Adult Probation and Yocum called for her to receive probation for up to five years. But Saylor disagreed and sentenced Yocum to 12 to 60 months in state prison, despite being told by Rymsza that his client had changed her life around by remaining drug-and-alcohol free and attending Pennsylvania College of Technology, where she achieved a 4.0 grade-point average this past semester.
Dreese was scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 28, but her attorney requested a pre-trial conference, to be held March 1. Northumberland County First Assistant District Attorney Ann Targonski said the commonwealth believes Dreese intends to withdraw her plea in hopes of being acquitted at trial.
On Nov. 19, Loner was sentenced by President Judge Robert B. Sacavage to 11 1/2 to 23 months in Northumberland County Prison after pleading guilty to misdemeanors of endangering the welfare of children and recklessly endangering another person. He also was ordered to pay $600 in fines and various costs, and given credit for 219 days previously served in prison.